Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if yu do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:15
Undeserved pain is inflicted, and often anger and despair combine to create a twisted web in our souls. Being injured by those that we love or by those that hurt us without cause, can often leave behind an infection of bitterness. It can also creep into our hearts when we feel that we have suffered unjustly or when tragedy strikes.
Choosing to forgive others or choosing to love God when our hearts are crushed by unspeakable tragedy is a decision that we all will face at one point or another. The sooner we choose to forgive and deal with the issue, the easier it is heal. The longer the bitterness festers in our souls, the harder it is to recover from its deadly poison. Continual prayer, asking God to help us forgive and overcome the bitterness, is often needed when we find it challenging to forgive.
Although forgiveness is essential in healing, it does not mean that we have to put ourselves in a place where we will be continually mistreated. In fact, it is sometimes necessary to distance ourselves from a person or situation that pushes us beyond our ability to cope. Sometimes it is also necessary to put up boundaries with people who seek to hurt us. A family member or friend who calls and starts yelling at you on the phone might be asked, in a kind voice, to talk calmly. If this doesn’t happen, the phone call may need to end, and the conversation may need to be put on hold until that person can talk in a respectful manner. Establishing boundaries, when at all possible, makes it easier to forgive people. It makes it easier to overcome the bitterness because it is easier to forgive people who are not constantly assaulting you. (This does not mean that all relationships with difficult people have to end, but it does mean that the way you handle those situations may need to change.)
God requires us to get rid of bitterness and forgive others. However, he also tells us to pray for wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” This wisdom includes wisely choosing how to respond to others. We need to be kind to other people, but we do need to ask God for help in determining the best way to interact with them.